Lakers 83, Bobcats 98: Running Diary

59812315Lakers – Bobcats Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Bobcats contest in Charlotte while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to come back from a tough OT loss to Miami the night before.

Lakers: Sasha Vujacic (shoulder)
Bobcats: Alexis Ajinca, Nazr Mohammed

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Bobcats: Raymond Felton, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Theo Ratliff

Pregame Podcasts with Radio PXP for Both Teams
Stepping in for Spero Dedes for L.A.’s play-by-play on radio is regular sideline reporter John Ireland, who spent some time with us to offer details: CLICK HERE. We also caught up with Bobcats play-by-play voice Scott Lauer to go over the matchup: CLICK HERE.

59812348First Quarter
8:12 Artest has been thieving so much of late, they’ve had to notify arena security. With six steals against Denver and five each against Indiana and Miami, Artest matched a feat that L.A. hadn’t seen since 1981, when a guy named Magic Johnson pulled off at least five steals in three straight. Ron opened the game against Charlotte by picking Boris Diaw’s pocket and finishing a layup at the other end for a 13-8 Lakers lead.

2:57 The Lakers looked good early, getting seven points each from Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to take a 20-13 lead … but then L.A. inexplicably started missing easy shots at the rim, though both Gasol and Bryant felt they were fouled on respective attempts. The Bobcats, however, used those opportunities to get into transition, and quickly rolled off an 8-0 run to take a 1-point lead.

1:17 Bynum capped a good first quarter by drawing a foul at the rim and hitting 1-of-2 free throws for the final point of the quarter, giving L.A. a 26-23 lead and himself eight points with seven rebounds. The coaching staff wasn’t particularly pleased, however, when Shannon Brown and Artest took respective jump shots relatively early in the shot clock instead of going back inside to Bynum or Lamar Odom.

Second Quarter
8:28 The opening to the second quarter was on the poor, to quite poor, side for L.A. Charlotte managed an 11-3 run, including three consecutive layups that produced a 34-29 lead into a time out, bringing Bryant and Gasol back onto the floor out of a time out. During the time out, the Bobcats ran a promotion featuring guys in those huge sumo wrestler suits playing tic-tac-toe, and one kid immediately made a ridiculous play by failing to block an obvious winning spot. Why do people not know how to play tic-tac-toe?

4:30 Eleven. That’s how many turnovers the Lakers amassed in the first 15 minutes of action. They average just over 13 turnovers per 48 minutes on the season. Charlotte, however, was only able to take advantage to the tune of a 38-32 lead.

1:20 Remember against the Rockets early in the Western Conference Semi’s when Kobe passed it to himself off the glass and finished a ridiculous layup over Yao Ming? He pulled that trick again, getting a layup when it seemed he’d have no good option for a shot. The possession before, Bryant had up-faked four times before nailing a fadeaway, the two shots reminding us that Bryant can always get a clean look at the basket one way or another. His buckets, however, were answered, and the ‘Cats took a 49-43 lead into the break.

59812399Third Quarter
8:54 Charlotte put on somewhat of a bizarre halftime show featuring a collection of random dances and song performances … then the Lakers came out as if they were participating in the acts instead of playing basketball, conceding a 10-0 run to start the quarter while turning the ball over three more times. All of a sudden, the home team was up 59-43, the visitors looking nothing like the Lakers. The bright side at that point? Lots of time remained in the game, and L.A. could play no worse.

3:28 After hitting 1-of-2 free throws, Bynum nailed an open 17-foot jumper to bring L.A. within 10 moments after back-to-back Bryant jumpers cut into a 14-point lead. Signs of fight had begun to eminate from the Lakers, but two end-of-shot-clock threes from Charlotte nearly erased the progress the team was making.

1:00 Farmar’s three-pointer preceded a pretty passing play between Gasol and Odom resulting in Lamar’s one-handed dunk, producing a 5-0 run to end the third quarter and get the Lakers to within 12 at 75-63.

Fourth Quarter
12:00 Any time the Nature Boy Ric Flair comes out to pump up the crowd, it can’t hurt. Not sure who got more excited … Charlotte’s fan base, or Lakers radio analyst Mychal Thompson (a massive wrestling fan and fellow University of Minnesota alum). And while Bryant hit the first shot of the fourth, the ‘Cats responded with three straight buckets to push the lead back to 17, matching their high for the night.

6:00 Bryant tried to lead a final comeback by example with his defense, crowding Felton to the point that the former North Carolina guard pushed off. However, the Lakers couldn’t put offense and defense together, as Brown pulled up early in the shot clock for a jumper and missed badly. With that sore thumb, he’d hit only 1-of-7 field goals to that point (and Artest, also nursing a hurt thumb, was only 1-of-9), and the Lakers couldn’t cut into the lead.

3:00 The game all but over, L.A. was only fighting to avoid losing by more than 13, the most it had ever lost by in six all-time losses to Charlotte … but the lead ended up at 15 when the buzzer sounded, 98-83.

A game L.A. would surely like to forget, but has to think about tomorrow heading into Sunday’s NBA Finals rematch against Orlando, when the Lakers look to avoid losing three straight for the first time since acquiring Pau Gasol.

Until then, your numbers:

38 Points in the paint for L.A., which got only 11 from Pau Gasol and 14 from Andrew Bynum (a total of just 10 after the first quarter), plus eight off the bench from Lamar Odom. They combined to shoot 11-of-29 from the field.

26 Points from Kobe Bryant to lead the Lakers and all scorers on 9-of-21 shooting and 8-of-9 free throws.

20 Turnovers for the Lakers, resulting in 24 Bobcats points.

15 Margin of victory for Charlotte, its largest ever against Los Angeles (previous was 13).

3 Game losing streak the Lakers hope to avoid in Sunday against Orlando. L.A. has yet to lose three straight games since acquiring Pau Gasol back in February of 2008.